Reliance Power withdraws from Dadri power project in Uttar Pradesh
NEW DELHI: Reliance Power has formally withdrawn from the Dadri power project in Uttar Pradesh after a protracted legal battle over acquisition of land for the plant.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed as infructuous the company’s appeal against a high court order setting aside the acquisition of land under an emergency clause, which allowed the state government to waive a requirement to seek objections from farmers before acquiring their land. This left Reliance Power free to withdraw. The state will now will have to return the compensation money paid by the company to the farmers and decide what to do with the land.
Reliance Power had in a surprise move told the top court on August 25 that it wasn’t interested in setting up the proposed 7,480 MW gas-fired power plant in Dadri and would return about 956 acres of land acquired for the project. Land acquisition for the project has been mired in legal wrangles. The judgement of the Allahabad High Court on Dec 5, 2009, quashing the move to acquire land through the emergency clause, made it mandatory for the state government to go back and get an NOC from each seller or get them to return the compensation received. Reliance Power and the state government had both contested the high court ruling.
After arguments in the case were completed and the top court reserved its verdict a fortnight ago, Reliance Power submitted an affidavit, saying it would have set up the project had there been no legal issues with the land acquired for the project.
“But the acquisition was challenged even before the project could start,” Reliance said. The company also claimed that since the 10 years when the project was first envisaged, it has become more difficult to get sustained natural gas supply to run the plant.
The law as it stands rules out the possibility of the land being returned to farmers, according to Manohar Lal Sharma, a lawyer for some farmers who supported the plant. The land will be earmarked by the state for some other public purpose if Reliance Power returns it, he said.